Certainty of punishment: The real deterrent

Our judicial system must provide speedy justice and ensure certainty of punishment

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The heart weeps, the eye bleeds, the social fabric of our society has been torn asunder. Every day we wake up to read that somewhere a daughter of Eve has been harassed, groped, raped or killed.

These inhumane acts have become malignant like a cancerous tumor; multiplying innumerably. From Zainab’s barbaric rape to the recent brutal murder of Noor Muqaddam, these unfortunate incidents never relented and there seems no sign of them relenting in the near future.

No wonder why this menace is increasing unabated; those in power are doing nothing but victim-blaming. Yes, obscenity and negative use of cell phones have an impact on the minds of the young generation. Yes, Islam ordains us to be modest. No denying it, but does that mean that the government should do nothing apart from preaching morality?

Pakistan has become a living hell for women. They no more feel safe in this ‘land of pure’. The country is ranked as the sixth most dangerous country in the world according to Thomas Reuters Poll. Moreover, Madadgar National Helpline has made a shocking revelation: 93 percent of women in Pakistan experience sexual violence in their lifetime. Such is the gravity of the issue and still our ‘arbab-e-ikhtiyar’ (authorities) are reluctant to wake up from their deep slumber.

Whenever there is an incident of such sort, outcries of hanging the culprit in the square or giving them severe and exemplary punishments are heard. From the corridors of power to laymen, everybody shouts out in the favour of severe punishments for the culprits. But I, as a student of law, believe that “it is not the severity of punishment, but the certainty of punishment that causes the real deterrence”.

Pakistan has passed a number of anti-rape and anti-harassment bills and ordinances but all in vain. Even the recently approved chemical castration of the rapist, as a punishment, in the Anti-Rape Ordinance 2020 has failed to cause deterrence. The reason is simple: lack of certainty of getting punished. Our justice system, unfortunately, has failed to protect the women of our society. The conviction rate for gender-based violence against women is less than four percent in the country. So, the perpetrators are more certain of being acquitted than of being convicted. Resultantly, there is more sexual violence.

Summing it up, if this horrible picture has to end, our judicial system must provide speedy justice and ensure certainty of punishment. Otherwise, neither are these sick minded people going anywhere nor are heart-wrenching incidents going to reduce.